Agenda and draft minutes

Council - Thursday 6th August 2020 1.00 pm

Venue: Members to access the meeting via Teams. Members of the press & public may listen to the live stream on the Council's website: https://democracy.maldon.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=130&MId=2146

Contact: Committee Services 

Media

Items
No. Item

1116.

Chairman's notices

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed everyone to this remote meeting of the Maldon District Council, held under new regulations which had come into effect in response to the COVID-19 situation.  The Chairman then went through some general housekeeping arrangements for the meeting.

 

A roll call of those Members present was taken.

1117.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors R P F Dewick and J V Keyes.

1118.

Declaration of Interest

To disclose the existence and nature of any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests, other Pecuniary Interests or Non-Pecuniary Interests relating to items of business on the agenda having regard to paragraphs 6 - 8 inclusive of the Code of Conduct for Members.

 

(Members are reminded that they are also required to disclose any such interests as soon as they become aware should the need arise throughout the meeting).

Minutes:

Councillor R H Siddall declared a non-pecuniary interest in Agenda Item 20 – Purchase of Land as he was a Ward Member for Great Totham.

 

Councillor R G Boyce advised that in relation to Agenda Item 9 – Notice of Motion he had a bias and perceived the motion was designed to humiliate him and predispose sanctions against him.

 

Councillor M F L Durham declared a interest as a Member of Essex County Council and any matter pertaining to that Authority.

 

Councillor Mrs P A Channer declared a non-pecuniary interest as a Member of Essex County Council and any matter that may in any way relate to or have connections within the remit of the County Council.

1119.

Minutes - 16 July 2020 pdf icon PDF 275 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the council meeting held on 16 July 2020 (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Council meeting held on 16 July 2020 be agreed.

1120.

Public Questions

To receive questions from members of the public, of which prior notification in writing has been received (no later than noon two clear working days before the day of the Council meeting).

 

Should you wish to submit a question please complete the online form at www.maldon.gov.uk/publicparticipation.

Minutes:

There were none.

1121.

Chairman's Announcements

Minutes:

Councillor Mrs P A Channer advised that in her role as Vice-Chairman of the Council she had attended Basildon Mayor’s virtual charity quiz night.

1122.

Statement from the Leader of the Council

To receive a statement from the Leader of the Council.

Minutes:

The Council received the following statement from the Leader of the Council:

 

“Members, the Minister for Local Government and Recovery, Simon Clarke, has confirmed that the Government will be presenting a white paper to Parliament in the early Autumn regarding the restructure of Local Government and economic recovery following the pandemic.  With regards to the restructure of Local Government the white paper is proposing the abolition of District, County, City and Borough Councils in favour of unitary Councils with combined authorities and elected mayors.  Very little formal detail has been released by the MHCLG (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government), but Mr Clarke has stated that the new unitary Councils must be formed within County boundaries and their populations should be between 350,000 and 600,000 residents.  1.8 million people live in Essex so in theory there could be three, four or five unitary Councils in the County, but until we have some clarity from the MHCLG regarding the actual population numbers we will not know for sure. 

 

I understand, Chairman, that Southend, Thurrock, Basildon, Brentwood, Rochford and Castle Point are already in talks with the MHCLG, likewise Uttlesford, Harlow and Epping.  Maldon District Council shares common boarders with Chelmsford, Braintree and Colchester.

 

Timelines have not been released but the Minister has indicated that he expects everything in place prior to the 2023 local elections.  It will be up to Council, Chairman, to decide which way it wishes to proceed and that said I would suggest that formal talks are entered into, as quickly as possible, with our neighbours following the Statutory Annual meeting.”

1123.

Minutes of Meetings of the Council

To note that since the last Council, up until Wednesday 29 July 2020 (Council agenda dispatch) the following Committees have met, and to receive any questions in accordance with Council and Committee Procedure Rule 6 (2).

 

Minutes published:

 

South Eastern Area Planning Committee

8 July 2020

District Planning Committee

9 July 2020

 

Minutes NOT finalised for publication:

 

Central Area Planning Committee

15 July 2020

 

 

Minutes:

The Council noted the list of Committees that had met since the last meeting of the Council, up to Wednesday 29 July 2020 for which Minutes had been published.

 

 

In accordance with his earlier declaration, Councillor R G Boyce left the meeting at this point.

1124.

Notice of Motion

In accordance with notice duly given under Procedure Rule 4, Councillor W Stamp to move the following motion, duly seconded by Councillor R H Siddall:

 

“Due to the significant nature and the possible impact of any decisions of the Joint Standards Committee meetings that are due to be held in August, it is proposed that the Statutory Annual Council Meeting is postponed for 4 weeks.

 

This prudent motion, if approved, will allow the Council and its elected members to formulate all positions required within group membership, membership of committees and appointments within the council.

 

Motion 1

It is proposed that the 2020 Statutory Annual Meeting is postponed for four weeks.”

 

 

In accordance with Procedure Rule 12 and in addition to the proposer and seconder the received Motion bears the names of an additional eleven Members.

Minutes:

Prior to the Motion being put to the Council, the Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer referenced the Motion pre-amble and its mention of a Joint Standards Committee meeting.  He provided the Council with information relating to an investigation that had been undertaken by the Acting Monitoring Officer and reported that this matter had been finalised and could not be brought back to the Joint Standards Committee or further considered by the Council.  The Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer advised that as the motion stood the pre-amble had nothing in it that, in his view, would justify Motion 1.

 

Councillor W Stamp raised a point of order as the person putting a Motion should be allowed to speak first prior to any debate ensuing.  She asked that it be minuted that she felt the Chairman had stopped this.  In response, the Chairman advised that she felt it important that the Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer spoke first.  The Chairman then invited Councillor Stamp to present her motion.

 

Councillor W Stamp read out her Motion (as set out below):

 

In accordance with Procedure Rule 4, Councillor W Stamp proposed the following motion which was duly seconded by Councillor R H Siddall:

 

“Due to the significant nature and the possible impact of any decisions of the Joint Standards Committee meetings that are due to be held in August, it is proposed that the Statutory Annual Council Meeting is postponed for 4 weeks.

 

This prudent motion, if approved, will allow the Council and its elected members to formulate all positions required within group membership, membership of committees and appointments within the council.

 

Motion 1

It is proposed that the 2020 Statutory Annual Meeting is postponed for four weeks.”

 

It was noted that in accordance with Procedure Rule 12 and in addition to the proposer and seconder the received Motion bears the names of an additional eleven Members.

 

Councillor Stamp provided the Council with background information to her Motion.  She then proposed that the motion be amended to read “that the 2020 Statutory Annual meeting of the Council is postponed for eight weeks’, advising that the reason for this was to relieve the pressure of Committee Services and to allow other meetings to take place.  Councillor R H Siddall had seconded the original motion and confirmed that he would also second the revised motion reiterating comments made about Officer pressures and asked Members to support the motion.

 

Councillor C Morris raised a number of points and was reminded by the Chairman of the subject of the Motion and to take accord of what was said by the Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer.  Following further debate Councillor Mrs M E Thompson proposed that Councillor C Morris no longer be heard.  This proposal was duly seconded. 

 

In accordance with Procedure Rule No. 13 (3) Councillor Morris requested a recorded vote. 

 

The Chairman then put the proposal that Councillor Morris no longer be heard, and the voting was as follows:

 

For the recommendation:

Councillors  ...  view the full minutes text for item 1124.

1125.

Questions in accordance with Procedure Rule 6(3) of which notice has been given

Minutes:

There were none.

1126.

Adoption of Essex Coast Recreational Disturbance Avoidance Mitigation Strategy, Supplementary Planning Document and Approval of Draft Partnership Arrangements pdf icon PDF 441 KB

To consider the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor R G Boyce re-joined the meeting at this point.

 

The Council considered the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance providing an update on the outcome of the recent public consultation on the Essex Coast Recreational Disturbance Avoidance Mitigation Strategy (RAMS) Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).  Approval of the final RAMS (Appendix 1 to the report) and SPD (Appendix 2) was sought and in addition Members agreement to enter into a partnership with Chelmsford City Council to manage the implementation of the RAMS for the first three years was sought.

 

The report provided background information on the process undertaken to meet the legal agreement to assess the impacts of new development on internationally important wildlife sites and where necessary, put mitigation measures in place to minimise any harm.  It was noted that Essex Coastal RAMS was a coordinated response across 12 Local Planning Authorities in Essex.  A number of documents related to the SPD were attached as appendices to the report.

 

The report also provided detailed information in respect of the following areas:

 

·                 The Zones of Influence (ZoIs)

 

·                 Mitigation Package;

 

·                 RAMS Project Governance;

 

·                 Monitoring and review process

 

·                 Partnership arrangements.

 

It was noted that Essex Coast RAMS, SPD and Partnership Arrangements represented a holistic approach to managing the Council’s joint legal obligations as a Local Planning Authority

 

The Leader of the Council proposed that the recommendations set out in the report along with a further recommendation (see below) be agreed.

 

That the annual contribution in the first year does not exceed £2,000 and that regular reports go to Strategy and Resources Committee.

 

This was duly seconded.

 

In response to a question regarding the promotion of individual projects that qualified for funds, the Specialist: Local Plan advised that these could be promoted through the Steering Group and the Essex Coastal Forum.

 

Concerns were raised regarding the Bradwell development and the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance reminded Members that Bradwell would be determined through the Development Consent Order process which was separate to RAMS.  Following further discussion it was also proposed that a further recommendation be added to state that the Council noted that this did not include the Bradwell development which would be subject to a separate process.  This was duly seconded.

 

The Chairman then put the recommendations set out in the report, along with the two further recommendations and in accordance with Procedure Rule No. 13 (3) Councillor C Mayes requested a recorded vote.  The voting was as follows:

 

For the recommendation:

Councillors M G Bassenger, Miss A M Beale, B S Beale, V J Bell, M F L Durham, M R Edwards, A S Fluker, B E Harker, M S Heard, M W Helm, A L Hull, K W Jarvis, K M H Lagan, C Mayes, C P Morley, S P Nunn, N G F Shaughnessy, R H Siddall, N J Skeens, J Stilts, C Swain, Mrs M E Thompson and Miss S White.

 

Against the recommendation:

Councillors E L Bamford, C Morris and W  ...  view the full minutes text for item 1126.

1127.

Tiptree Neighbourhood Plan Consultation Response pdf icon PDF 204 KB

To consider the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance seeking approval of the Council’s response to the Tiptree Neighbourhood Plan Regulation 16 Consultation (as set out Appendix 1 to the report).  It was noted that the consultation closed on 10 August 2020.

 

The report provided details of the Neighbourhood Plan consultation and the changes to the process as a result of the COVID-19 legislation.  It was noted that Colchester Borough Council were consulting on the Tiptree Neighbourhood Plan which was the result of considerable consultation and engagement with residents and businesses in the village.

 

The Leader of the Council proposed that the recommendations as set out in the report be agreed.  This was duly seconded and agreed (by assent).

 

RESOLVED that the proposed response to the Tiptree Neighbourhood Plan as set out in Appendix 1 to the report, be agreed.

1128.

Review of Committees and Remote Committee Arrangements pdf icon PDF 227 KB

To consider the report of the Corporate Governance Working Group (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

The Council considered the report of the Corporate Governance Working Group (CGWG) which set out a number of recommendations to improve the way the committee structure at the Council operated.  Following a resolution by the Council in May 2020 the CGWG had met twice to consider items relating to the six-month review of the new Committee structure and the arrangements for remote Committees at Maldon District Council.

 

The report set out a number of recommendations and provided background and rationale for each.

 

The Leader of the Council presented the report highlighting how the Motion agreed earlier on in this meeting would have an impact on the recommendations set out in the report.  He then proposed a number of amendments to the Officers’ recommendations and outlined his reasoning behind each change.  This proposal was duly seconded.   The Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance responded to the proposed changes advising that Officers would meet the requirements of Members and the decision made by the Council.

 

Members discussed the proposal from the Leader of the Council and in response to comments raised and further propositions the Leader further amended his proposal to as follows:

 

(i)              that all suspended Committees be reinstated from October 7 September 2020 after the Statutotory Annual meeting of the Council with all Council and Committee meetings to be held remotely until legislation changes;

 

(ii)            that regular Council and Committee meetings be scheduled with a 6pm start time from October 2020, with the exception of the Performance Governance and Audit (PGA) Committee which will start at 2pm (allowing for input of external agencies), and these arrangements be reviewed after six months.  Ad-hoc Committee meetings, such as the Joint Standards Committee, are to be scheduled as required at a time to suit;

 

(iii)          that the remote meeting protocol is updated to highlight that Members can use personal devices;

 

(iv)          that Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee are given training and a clear remitbased on the guidance issues by the MHCLG in June 2019;

 

(v)            that from the Statutory Annual meeting of the Council the membership numbers for the Strategy & Resources, Performance, Governance& Audit and Overview and Scrutiny Committees be more equally split, with the programme Committees not having the same members as those serving on the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and that a six-month review to these arrangements takes place;

 

(vi)          that public participation also allows for video and audio to be broadcast at Committee meetings, with the operational introduction of this being delegated to the Programmes, Performance and Governance manager;

 

(vii)        that if there are less than three items of non-urgent business on an agenda a decision should be made whether to cancel a Committee meeting at the discretion of the Committee Chairman or Vice-Chairman and that items for noting are not brought before Committees but are posted on the I Drive and brought to the Members’ attention through the agenda paper;

 

(viii)       that Planning enforcement reports are no longer presented at scheduled Area Planning Committee meetings but  ...  view the full minutes text for item 1128.

1129.

Financial Outturn 2019 / 20 pdf icon PDF 243 KB

To consider the report of the Director of Resources, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered the report of the Director of Resources presenting the outturn position for the year ended 31 March 2020 and inform Members of movements in relation to the Council’s General Fund, Earmarked Reserves and Capital Commitments as at 31 March 2020.

 

It was noted that a draft statement of accounts had been published and the audit was due to conclude in August 2020.

 

Appendix 1 to the report provided an overview of the outturn position and the impact on Reserves.  The Earmarked Reserves balance was £4.2m as at 31 March 2020 and Appendix 2 provided a breakdown of Reserves.  Appendix 3 provided detail of Commitments and Members’ approval for these to be carried forward into 2020 / 21 was sought.  The report also provided details of Capital Commitments.

 

The Leader of the Council on behalf of all Members thanked the Director of Resources and his team for their hard work around the closure of accounts.  He then proposed that the recommendations as set out in the report be agreed.  This was duly seconded.

 

Councillor C P Morley left the meeting at this point.

 

Councillor W Stamp asked that Members thanks to the two Interim Section 151 Officers also be recorded.

 

The Chairman then put the proposal, which was agreed (by assent).

 

RESOLVED

 

(i)              That the outturn position for the 2019 / 20 financial year be noted;

 

(ii)       That the movement in earmarked reserves in Appendix 2 to the report be approved;

 

(iii)     That Revenue commitments in Appendix 3 to the report be approved to be brought forward to 2020 / 21;

 

(iv)      That the Capital commitment roll forwards into 2020 / 21 be approved.

1130.

Human Resources Policies and Procedures pdf icon PDF 198 KB

To consider the report of the Director of Resources, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered the report of the Director of Resources seeking Members’ approval of a new Human Resources Policy – Personal Relationships at Work, attached at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

It was noted that this new Policy had been developed to support staff and managers in dealing sensitively with situations where employees have, or form, a close personal relationship with a work colleague, contractors, client, customer or supplier.  It was noted that the Policy had been reviewed and approved by the Corporate Leadership Team and Unison Area Organiser (Essex Team).

 

Councillor M F L Durham left the meeting during this item of business.

 

The Leader of the Council proposed that the recommendation as set out in the report be agreed.  This was duly seconded and duly agreed (by assent).  Councillors K M H Lagan and C Mayes requested that their dissent against the proposal be agreed.

 

RESOLVED that the new Personal Relationships at Work Policy and Procedure (attached at Appendix 1 to the report) be approved.

1131.

Covid-19 Reset and Recovery Member Working Group - Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 199 KB

To consider the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council considered the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance seeking Members’ approval of the Terms of Reference for the COVID-19 Reset and Recovery Working Group (the Working Group).  It was noted that the Terms of Reference had been circulated prior to the meeting.

 

Members were advised that the Working Group had agreed the Terms of Reference at its meeting on 3 August 2020.

 

The Leader of the Council thanked the Chairman of the Working Group and proposed that the recommendation as set out in the report be agreed.  This was duly seconded and agreed (by assent).

 

RESOLVED that the Council approves the Terms of Reference Covid-19 Reset and Recovery Member Working Group.

1132.

Questions to the Leader of the Council in accordance with Procedure Rule 1 (3)(m)

Minutes:

Councillor R G Boyce asked the Leader of the Council what the cost for the complaint against him for predetermination, both actual and Officer time was up to now.  He also asked the Leader to confirm what statute, common law or Council constitution said how a Member should vote.  In response the Leader of the Council advised that following a discussion with the Monitoring Officer he had agreed that the overall cost for all the complaints including the pre-determination complaint during a 12-month period including officer time was north of £50,000.  There was no time recording for time spend on each complaint.  The Leader was unable to answer the second question raised and as it was a technical question, but he would arrange for a written response to be sent to Councillor Boyce.

 

Councillor W Stamp referred to Minute 967 of the Council meeting held on 28 May 2020 quoting from it “…meetings of the Corporate Governance Working Group (CGWG) be restarted and its membership be extended to include members of the Independent Group”.  She asked the Leader of the Council how many members of the Working Group were Independent and if he accepted her point (referring to the word ‘members’ in this Minute) that if an ‘s’ was added it meant more that one.  In response the Leader of the Council advised that he would revisit this Minute and if a mistake had been made he would speak to all non-aligned Members to seek an appointment onto that Committee.

 

Councillor C Morris referred to a comment made by the Leader of the Council at the Council meeting in November 2019 and read an extract from an email between the Leader and Lead Legal Specialist and Monitoring Officer referencing a loan.  Councillor Morris asked the Leader if the email was admittance that he had made a loan but claimed it was for altruistic purposes.  In response the Leader advised that he had made a statement regarding this matter by which he would stand, and the Officer had left the Council of their own fruition volition[1]to take up a promotion in another authority.  Not satisfied with the answer received, Councillor Morris continued seeking further response to his question, to which the Leader repeatedly advised that he had answered the question.  Councillor Mrs M E Thompson raised a point of order that the asker of the question was entitled to an answer even if that may not be the answer they wanted.  Councillor Morris then raised a further question regarding Councillor Fluker not cooperating with the Monitoring Officer and this being a breach of the Code of Conduct.  In response the Leader advised he would not answer that question because it must be the subject of a complaint and confirmed that he had answered the earlier question raised.  During the discussion that followed the Chairman repeatedly asked Councillor Morris to refrain, advising that the Leader had responded to his question.  At this point and in accordance with Procedure Rules the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 1132.

1133.

Exclusion of the Public and Press

To resolve that under Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act, and that this satisfies the public interest test.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 5 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act, and that this satisfies the public interest test.

1134.

Purchase of Land

To consider the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance, (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

The Council considered the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance seeking authority to purchase land as identified in Appendix 1 to the report.

 

The report provided background information, details of an offer to the Council with conditions for purchase of the land, funding and the benefits it would bring to the community.

 

The Leader of the Council proposed an addition to the recommendation set out in the report, that the Council should continue to work with Housing Associations and explore the opportunity of Alms House Trusts.  This was duly seconded.

 

Councillor K M H Lagan left the meeting at this point.

 

Councillor Mrs P A Channer disclosed a non-pecuniary interest in this item of business as she was a Member of an Alms House Trust.

 

Councillor J Stilts disclosed a non-pecuniary interest as she was trustee of a Maldon Housing Association.

 

In response to questions raised the Lead Specialist Place and Commercial Manager provided Members with further information regarding the proposal.

 

Councillor Miss A M Beale declared a non-pecuniary interest in this item of business in relation to the land owner.

 

Councillor C Morris proposed that the decision be deferred, but the Chairman advised that there was a proposal on the table which would be considered and if not agreed then he could put his proposal.

 

The Chairman put the proposal in the name of Councillor Fluker and upon a vote being taken this was duly agreed.

 

RESOLVED that subject to satisfactory legal enquiries the Council authorises the purchase of the land identified in Appendix 1 to the report for a purchase price of £80,000 to be funded from Section 106 (Commuted Sums) set aside specifically for affordable housing developments and the Council should continue to work with Housing Associations and explore the opportunity of Alms House Trust.